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Ian CransonPlenty of Jam and the love of being a footballer have inspired Alec over the years, says former team-mate Ian.

Football almost lost Alec Chamberlain to cricket, according to Ian Cranson, the former Ipswich, Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and England under 21 international.

Ian and Alec were in digs together when they were both setting out on their football careers at Ipswich Town. But Ian admits he thought Alec's heart was with the summer 11 a side game, rather than the winter one.

"When Alec came to Ipswich in 1981 he was 17, and came as a 2nd year professional rather than starting out straight from school at 16," said Ian. "I must admit, I got the initial impression he'd rather play cricket than football.

"He was obviously a talented cricketer with the ability to make it as a professional, and I think he thought football was not a bad substitute.

"Well, what a good substitute it turned out to be, though anyone who knows Alec will tell you that football has been his number one priority since he first turned up at Portman Road.

"He's done very well, had a great career and is extremely popular throughout the game," said Ian. "And the reason he's done so well is because he's been a dedicated player for 23 years now, which proves how much being a professional footballer means to him. He's been a credit to the game, and he's a great example to young professionals just starting out."

Ian says Alec was unlucky at Ipswich, but when he left the club no one was in any doubt that he had a bright future ahead of him.

"He was a little unfortunate, as I say, he missed a year, and he also got injured during the season which didn't help.

"In those days, Ipswich were one of the top teams in the country and Sir Bobby Robson was still the manager - they had Paul Cooper and a couple of other goalkeepers who were doing well.

"But Alec was highly regarded, and in all honesty it was a hard decision to let him go, said Ian. "But luckily for Alec, Allan Hunter had moved to Colchester as player-manager and took him there with him.

"When Mike Walker retired, Alec was given the opportunity to establish himself in the first team, and he did just that, and what a great career he's had since."

Ian and Alec quickly struck up a good friendship after they met at Ipswich and were put in digs together, and that friendship is still as strong as ever today.

"Alec was best man at my wedding," said Ian. "We've known each other since we were 17, and he's been one of my best friends ever since. He's a terrific guy, and great fun to be with."

Apart from his football and cricket, Ian reveals that Alec's other great love in his late teenage years was The Jam, and their lead singer Paul Weller.

"If Alec was listening to music you could guarantee with was The Jam, or, later on, The Style Council, and I know to this day he's still a big fan of Paul Weller," Ian explained.

"All in all, he's a great guy, he's been a great professional and a fantastic servant to Watford, and I wish him every success for his testimonial year," said Ian. "I'm sure everyone at Watford will give him every support, and he thoroughly deserves it."

Thank goodness football triumphed over cricket all those years ago!

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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